Google’s AMP (originally standing for Accelerated Mobile Pages) came to the internet with the declared goal of speeding up page load times on mobile devices.
And who wouldn’t get behind that, right? But the technology was soon confronting criticism that the main reason for its existence was to allow Google to control the internet even more tightly and effectively turn it into its walled garden.
From obfuscating publisher’s URLs to controlling the way they monetize their product, AMP has been described by some as technology promoting anti-competitiveness more effectively that “fast page loads.”
But in a blog post in May, AMP said that it had “outlived” (possibly “outgrown”) the old meaning of its name. It is now a web framework that’s not just for mobile – and not just for pages – as those deploying it can use the tech to “build ads, emails and stories.”
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And users are noticing.
Over on Twitter, Aram Zucker-Scharff writes in a series of tweets that “Google is using structured data and images from a variety of photo services to create what appears to be robot-built AMP Stories at the top of search pages.”
Not sure when this started but Google is using structured data and images from a variety of photo services to create what appears to be robot-built AMP Stories at the top of search pages, further obscuring sources and likely to decrease the chance users will click out of Google. pic.twitter.com/XvSLrdTdWm
— Aram Zucker-Scharff (@Chronotope) July 14, 2019
Zucker-Scharff points out to where this becomes problematic: original publishers of the content shown in this way are becoming less visible and less likely to get any clicks from Google.
And while quotes included in these Stories do contain links – they give no visual cues such as quote marks or author bylines.
There are those who like this type of sloppy attribution less than others – for example, publishers in the EU. Zucker-Scharff, who uses an AMP Story for actress Scarlett Johansson as his example, noticed that one of slides features a direct quote from one EU publisher.
The implication here is that this practice might land Google in hot water, given the history of its disputes with the EU, and the fact the tech giant’s practices in terms of usage of original content are different on its News pages.
On top of that, AMP Stories seem to serve to build the wall on that Google walled garden even higher.
“Organic search first” has long since become a thing of the past for Google – but the way AMP Stories are promoted – directly in the search results, at the top of the page, is particularly jarring.